January 10, 2024
Dear Ramah in the Rockies Families and Tzevet (Staff):
In just over five months (30 weeks), we will welcome our first chalutzim (campers) to the chava (ranch). We are SOOOOO excited and know that these weeks are going to move quickly. Between now and then, we will send you regular updates about our summer program. We are sure that you too have questions about our program and want to encourage you to check out our one-stop shop, read our camp handbook, and also be in touch with a member of our year-round team directly.
This first letter involves three important updates/changes to our medical protocols for 2024. We realize some of these medical updates might come as a surprise, and we are happy to discuss directly about the rationale for any of these.
- COVID-19 Vaccine NOT Required: The National Ramah Medical Committee (supported by our own medical committee) strongly recommends but will not require the COVID-19 vaccine for members of the Ramah community. Continuing with our protocols from the last two summers, our medical professionals will only test for COVID-19 if deemed medically necessary to do so. Most people with COVID-like symptoms can remain part of the regular community unless they have a fever over 100.4, have vomited twice, or have had diarrhea at least twice in the past 24 hours.
- Meningococcal Vaccine Required: All members of the camp community who are 11 or will turn 11 after May 1, 2024 must have a meningococcal vaccine. This is consistent with the ACIP recommendations. Meningococcus is a severe, life-threatening infection of the central nervous system. Outbreaks have occurred in the confined spaces of college dormitories, and the camp environment may carry similar risk. For a complete list of our vaccine requirements, click here.
- Peanuts: We will serve peanuts and peanut butter at camp this summer! Staff, campers, and families have voiced concern over the amount of protein we’re able to serve, especially for individuals who do not eat eggs and dairy. As a result, we have received many requests to allow nuts into our camp. After the 2023 season, we looked at allergy data from the prior three years, where we have served about 550 individuals annually. For each of those years, 2-3 campers were allergic to peanuts, and 13-15 campers were allergic to tree nuts (there are different subsets within this broader category). For 2024 our Medical Director, Dr. Ali Levine, in consultation with the camp leadership, has decided to allow peanuts at camp under specific circumstances:
- Peanuts can be served as a snack in between meals.
- Peanut butter will be an option at most lunches and dinners.
- Peanuts and peanut butter will be allowed on masa’ot, except those with someone allergic to peanuts.
- In camp, peanuts will NOT be served outside of the chadar ochel (e.g. as part of a program), and peanuts are never allowed in ohalim (tents).
- Peanuts or peanut butter are never allowed to be used in any sort of cooking or baking, whether in the kitchen or in a cooking chug (activity).
- No other nuts are permitted in public areas, including the staff lounge or tuff sheds, at camp.
- Peanuts/peanut products are not allowed to be consumed in camp vans or buses.
We will continue to accept children who have peanut allergies to camp and strive to have a culture of caring where campers and staff are encouraged and enabled to keep their fellow community members safe by washing hands after eating peanuts. As always, counselors will be aware of their campers’ allergies. These bunks will have access to extra wipes for their table to wipe down before meals (in case anyone ate peanuts on the table in between meals). Other precautions will be discussed with parents and staff on a case-by-case basis. We will work with staff who have allergies individually to ensure a safe working environment based on their roles and needs.
As always, we appreciate your honest feedback and support. We look forward to providing all of our campers and staff another fantastic kayitz (summer) at Ramah in the Rockies!
Rabbi Eliav Bock
Dr. Ali Levine